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Meet a Reader | Jane from Arkansas

Thank you so much to all of you who volunteered for the Meet a Reader interviews. I’ve sent lots of sets of questions out to you guys, and some of you have already sent back your responses. Yay!

Jane’s was the first response to hit my inbox, so we’re meeting her today. 🙂

1. Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Jane and I live in the Hot Springs National Park area in Arkansas with my self-employed, forestry-consultant husband and two of my three sons (adopted from foster care) under my roof.

(plus three dogs and two cats.)

A black poodle in a chair.

We are surrounded by beautiful mountains, trees, hot springs, lakes, and abundant natural resources.

After early “retirement” from a public high school as a chemistry teacher, I currently teach middle school science part-time, for fun, at a small Catholic school and also instruct an additional university biology course for high school students online from my home.

dog sleeping on a rug.

For most of my life, I have been surrounded by unusual animals (newts, aquatic frogs, crayfish, lizards, and snakes) plus the furry ones that currently overrun my home.

Jane's dog sleeping in chair.

I love anything artistic and have dabbled a bit in many areas as I managed a retail arts and craft store many years ago and also taught art for a number of years recently.

a watercolor cat portrait.

Right now my main interest is watercolor animal portraits, but recently I have been exploring a bit of wool-felting and some beadwork.

a dog portrait

one of my commissions

I enjoy reading and I also love to cook and bake with frugality in mind.

a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.

2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?

My introduction to FG was around 11 years ago, I estimate, when I was looking for a yogurt recipe (I was tired of paying the price) and found one I loved on Kristen’s site.

(Note: Here’s the homemade yogurt recipe.)

I immediately was attracted to her text, photos, and expression in the blog. I started following her then, probably have never missed a post, and have used many recipes.

I was a fanatical fan of the Tightwad Gazette and still have all my copies that arrived at my home as I cannot throw them away! I was saddened by Amy’s departure to the publication but felt I found a special kinship in Kristen’s blog that took over the reins a bit! Kristen talks about TG from time to time.

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

My parents were frugal by nature and we just grew up that way. It is just in my DNA.

They grew their own vegetables and fruit, seldom went out to eat, took care of everything they owned, and made any place they lived more beautiful through landscaping and tasteful decorating. It was just in my nature to do the same as my parents and not to “waste” money. They paid cash for everything but their homes but paid them off early.

4. What single action or decision has saved you the most money over your life?

The largest recent financial gain is probably in our current home.

Eight years ago, we were thinking about building our forever home but located one for sale near my school. We purchased this home and decided to put our stamp on it by adding a few additions such as another garage, saferoom (it is the south folks…tornado alley), geothermal heating/cooling, plantation shutters, and my husband’s office.

Jane's brick home.

My home, our cash purchase!

Just recently we added a small art studio I share with the doggie door (not a good plan by the way).

Art studio.

The studio desk is a wallpaper table in chic, industrial New York stores for $1500. I got it for $35 or so from FB Marketplace. Same table! Crazy!

We bought our house way under the current value, at the perfect time in the market, paid cash for it (ouch!), bought in a small, gated but growing community, and the value has almost doubled even before the recent housing market boom. We have not paid a penny of interest.

We had paid off two homes prior to purchasing this one, so we knew the money would go into our pocket rather than a lender’s coffers. What a financial blessing this has been for many years of no house note. I call medical insurance the NEW house note instead!

5. What’s a dumb money mistake you’ve made?

Before adopting our children, we had a little extra money and wanted to do some different types of investing. We were looped into investing with Whole Life Insurance to help shelter our money.

In comparison, mine turned out well but my husband decided to take a relative’s suggestion, and he lost so much profit that would have been better served elsewhere. I took mine out when I had the chance and put it into the purchase equity of our home. He had to wait 10 additional years as the market boomed and his insurance made the company the profits, not us!

It was not a wise choice one bit. I would never do it again or advise anyone into that realm.

6. What’s one thing you splurge on?

If there is something of quality I want, I purchase it. I love plantation shutters.

plantation shutters.

I buy my favorite vanilla by the gallon; it makes gas look cheap! I like art and office supplies or anything to organize my systems.

We sometimes buy new vehicles but we drive them for decades. My husband still drives his 22-year-old ToyotaTundra with almost a half million miles…still has a perfectly fine engine and clean interior. He did replace the first light bulb in year 19.

I still own my 20-year-old Honda Odyssey van and I gave a friend my 1995 Honda Civic VX that is still running like a top! I drive a newer but used Honda CRV; we hang on to older cars so as not to put money into depreciating items.

My husband is waiting on the Tesla Cybertruck as he made a deposit on one years ago. It is his splurge that I might consider burying him in one day! Hope the Tundra hangs on a while longer!

7. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?

I am not into anything that involves fine dining, name brands, or flashiness.

I don’t like to spend money at restaurants very much but do enjoy the experience of eating out with a friend. I pack lunches and find little cabins with kitchens when we travel and prepare food.

8. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?

I had a luxurious financial gift added to my life seven years ago and it did not alter my spending pattern or frugality a bit. We invested it all for our family’s future.

I would do the same with $1000, more than likely, or try to help others around me that are struggling.

9. What is something you wish more people knew?

How great buying used items are!

I love to buy used items on Facebook Marketplace. I have bought so many nice decorative pieces for my home. This past week l bought a Kitchen Aid mixer, with all the attachments, for $50 for a friend that wanted one but could not afford to buy one. It took some time but I found one again.

If I am looking for something, I start scouting it out and over time I usually find a deal. You have to be patient but it will come up.

Probably the best deal I scored was a $4000 refrigerator for $1200 that was one year old. It was posted for 45 minutes and I keep cash on hand to deal. I would have never purchased one that nice unless I had a bargain. You usually have to act fast to land deals like this.

It is satisfying to know that we saved almost $3000 that we did not have to spend. No taxes either! It was a little work getting it in here…note the steps in front of my house.

view out Jane's front door.

10. What single action or decision has saved you the most money over your life?

Having a frugal lifestyle is the key to having wealth.

As a teacher and a forester, we NEVER made a bunch of money compared to other professionals. I listened to Dave Ramsey and had the opportunity to be on his radio program a few years ago discussing personal wealth and how to achieve it.

A tree made of lights

my frugal Christmas tree from last year; we loved it!

As I said then, I DO sweat the small stuff and I have found that living below your means, by saving and investing with frugality at the core, allows you to have the money to spend however you want, later in life.

Frugality and wealth building allows you to give freely without worry. Living on less allows one to have more..frugality rules!

Thank you Kristen to your devotion to the frugal-minded community! We love you!


Jane, I’m so impressed that at the way you have managed to avoid a mortgage. Good for you guys!

You said you like to read; what are your favorite types of books to read?

Also, I was so surprised to see snow in your front door picture. Do you guys have snow very often there in Arkansas?

Readers, the floor is yours! Leave your questions and comments for Jane.

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Saturday 3rd of September 2022

Jane,. I had a cousin I came to call Mr. Common Sense. He never bought big vehicles like most of us did back in the late seventies when we came of age. He bought a Ford Escort. He and his wife never made a great lot of money but they were frugal and steady. Now they have a three car attached garage in a newer suburb. They put two daughters through college, too. I did not always admire him for his common sense. When I was young I didn't understand being frugal. As someone famously said, "Common sense is not so common.".


Thursday 1st of September 2022

Great to meet you! You have inspired me to try another vanilla. I love the one Costco sells but your prices are better... Also love your watercolor portraits. I'd like to be a Sunday painter again, something that kind of got lost when I got married. Good news: watercolor paints mostly keep quite well!

Anita Isaac

Thursday 1st of September 2022

wow. amazing post. love the fur babies, love your house. love everything.


Wednesday 31st of August 2022

Thank you Jane, and all the other people who volunteer their storied! I'm also here because of the yoghurt :)


Wednesday 31st of August 2022

Whoops...!* ;)

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